Late goal lifts Dynamo to 2-1 win over Earthquakes

September 18, 2011, 4:56 am
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The Earthquakes, carrying a reputation from 2010 as a solidroad team down the stretch, could not live up to that status as they fell 2-1at the Houston Dynamo. Despite taking the lead in the first half through KhariStephenson, defensive mistakes in the second half consigned the team to adefeat that has all but mathematically extinguished their slim playoff chances.The result left San Jose 16th out of 18 in theoverall table (with the top 10 teams making the postseason) and seven pointsaway from a playoff berth. With four of its final six games on the road and ahost of teams contending for a spot, it would take a marathon effort for theteam to turn things around and qualify for the playoffs. San Jose took a 1-0 lead into halftime after KhariStephenson finished off a well-worked counterattack with an emphatic volley.However, the Earthquakes were on the back foot for most of the first half, atrend that continued as Houston clawed two back in the second half, San Josewilting in the 81-degree heat combined with 85 humidity. Despite taking eight shots, only three fewer than theDynamo, the Earthquakes managed to put two on goal, an inefficient use of theirchances considering Houston had a 57.3-42.7 advantage in possession.Playing up top instead of at his natural centralmidfield position, Khari Stephenson was one of the Earthquakes most dangerousplayers on the night, getting the teams other shot on target in addition tohis goal. However, the Jamaican did miss a particularly glaring chance in the71st minute, failing to put his shot on frame after getting inbehind thanks to a defensive miscue from Houston. I scored a goal tonight, and I probably should have had twomore, Stephenson said of his play. Then again, it is not my position, but Ifeel as if I have the qualities and I should be able to put away thosechances. Head coach Frank Yallop also lamented the teams inabilityto convert its chances into goals, indicating he would continue to search forthe right formula up top with increasingly little left to play for. We had enough chances to score more than one goal. Thatsthe disappointing part forme, he said.We are trying our best to put it right and do our best to address everythingwhen we play games and come out next time and do better. The inefficient use of possession could have been overcomewith solid defending, and despite a spirited effort in the back overall, twomistakes caused two goals. First, Bobby Burling caught the foot of Brad Daviswhile the Houston midfielder was cutting into the area, leading to a penaltykick that Davis converted himself. In the second instance, Steven Beitashourlost his mark on Houstons Will Bruin, allowing Luis Camargo to float in across that Bruin easily volleyed home. Last year we found a way to win these games. This year weare shooting ourselves in the foot a bit, Earthquakes forward ChrisWondolowski said. We are making a couple of mistakes and getting punished forthem and not finishing when we should. Wondolowski took just two shots throughout the game, as hewas effectively isolated by the Houston defense. One chance was particularlydangerous Wondolowski received the ball at his feet at close range after somedazzling individual work from Simon Dawkins, but he could not get his footaround the ball, putting it harmlessly wide. Houston did a great job tonight, and they have a greatdefense, Wondolowski added. We didnt create a whole lot of opportunities,and the ones that I did get on the end of I didnt do a good enough job ofconverting. Although not mathematically eliminated, the Earthquakes willbe up against it, their road trip set to continue for two more games. The teamfirst travels to Portland on Wednesday evening before visiting Colorado thefollowing Saturday, and while the playoffs may be almost out of reach, thegames should provide a good test for those looking to retain their spot on theroster in 2012.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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